Comedy Matters with Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock and more!

By | April 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm | No comments | Features | Tags: ,

Comic Strip Action

Chris Rock, who got his start at The Comic Strip, made his Broadway debut in a hard-hitting and fantastic new show with one of the strangest names ever to hit Broadway, The Motherf**ker With The Hat.

What’s particularly funny to me as a comedy writer and something I’ve thought about since The Vagina Monologues came out, is that as a writer you can call your work anything you want, and people HAVE to say it if they want to see it.

Before The Vagina Monologues, no one used the word “vagina” in regular conversation. It felt too weird. As a matter of fact, when I saw it, the next day my mother asked me what play I saw the night before, and I felt so uncomfortable I told her I didn’t remember. She said ” How can’t you remember? You just saw it last night!”

And that’s when I realized I would rather my mother thought I had brain damage than that I knew the word “vagina.”

Annabella Sciorra, Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale. Even his lips are pursed like a B-Boy!

Anyway, this play was superb. It’s only in previews so by the time it opens officially it will supposedly be even better although I don’t see how that can happen. Now I’m not a critic, so I look at a performance as to whether I enjoyed it or not.

I don’t notice things that critics tend to notice. When I use a camera, I leave it on “Auto”. If I can see the picture I think it’s a good camera. When people rave about audio systems, it means nothing to me. If I turn on my CD player, and I can hear the song, and it sounds good to me, that’s all I need to know.

That being said, this cast is superb. Every one of them is a shining star, Chris Rock, Annnnbella Sciorra, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Yul Vazquez, and Bobby Cannavale.

Chris Rock plays a guy named Ralph who’s the A.A. sponsor of a career criminal named Jackie, fresh out of jail, and trying to stay sober and do the right thing, played by the incredible Bobby Cannavale.

I know Bobby from my old friends Ethan Hawke and Peter Dinklage and I didn’t even recognize him. He changed himself physically for this role. Even standing next to him, I had to struggle to visualize that it was actually him.

Chris Rock acts like he’s been on a Broadway stage all his life. It’s his first show but he’s been on stages all over the world, so he says it didn’t intimidate him at all.

I went to the show with Richie Tienken, the owner and co-founder of The Strip. Richie discovered Eddie Murphy and went on to manage him for 11 years and in 1986 they jointly discovered Chris Rock, so Chris is always happy to see Richie.

Watch the little interview I did with Chris backstage after the show. Richie is in it as is Chris’ friend, hilarious comic Ardie Fuqua, who happened to sit right near us in the audience.

On the way up the 6 flights of stairs to Chris’ dressing room, ( and I’m not kidding about that!) we ran into the rest of the cast and brought them with us to take the photos you’re seeing here.

Annabella Sciorra has been a favorite of mine since The Sopranos. She’s so talented and plays the long suffering wife of Ralph, Chris Rock’s character, in this, her Broadway debut as well.

She was running home to take care of her kids but was kind enough to come upstairs for a group photo for Comedy Matters, and that’s why she was wearing her hat and coat!

Annabella Sciorra, Jeffrey Gurian, Richie Tienken, Back-Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale totally in character.

Chris plays a guy so cold he actually tells a guy in detail how he’s been with his girlfriend and when I say in detail, I mean “IN DETAIL”! It was COLD, bro’!

Elizabeth Rodriguez plays Jackie’s girlfriend Veronica, a “Boricua Taino Princess” in Jackie’s words. She’s done lots of theatre and television, with recurring roles on NY Undercover, The Shield, and All My Children, besides numerous roles on other shows. She’s also been in films like “Miami Vice”, “Jack Goes Boating”, and “Acts of Worship”.

Even more amazing to me, a day or two after I met her I found out she’s the next door neighbor of my dear friend Mary Elizabeth, who just happened to call and excitedly ask me if I heard about this play, telling me her friend and neighbor Elizabeth is in it. I’m like ” Elizabeth Rodriguez?” That can’t even happen!

She plays a girl who’s tough as nails on the surface, but really just wants to be loved like everyone else. All in all this is a play not to be missed!

Fundraising At The Strip

The Comic Strip hosts a lot of fundraisers. I’m doing one for Diabetes on Thursday April 14th at 8 P.M. featuring the great Elayne Boosler, Goumba Johnny the afternoon host of WKTU, Cipha Sounds the morning host from Hot 97, plus comics from late night TV shows like Eddie Brill from Letterman, Jon Fisch from Comedy Central and VH1, Sherrod Small from VH1’s Best Week Ever, Jeff Pirrami from The Friars Club, Macio from The Chapelle Show, national headliners like Jim Mendrinos and Louis Ramey and many more.

Louis CK and Richie Tienken both almost smiling backstage at The Comic Strip.

They recently did one for the Red Cross, in which Colin Quinn and Louis CK both dropped by to do spots, and the evening was a great success. Louis CK will also be honored this summer in Montreal at the Just For Laughs Festival, as “Comedy Person Of The Year.” Last year he hosted one of the galas.

Everybody loves Louis and everyone at The Comic Strip is glad he’s planning on coming by to work out.

Gotham Happenings

Aside from having star-studded shows, Gotham runs one of the best sources of new comedians in the biz, and comic Yonah Ward Grossman, as well as Jessica Kirson, can be thanked for running many of the New Faces shows as well as the open mic evening on Thursdays. Yonah runs the Friday and Saturday night New Faces Shows at 7:30 P.M., in the downstairs lounge.

Yonah is a one man crew, and runs the event, during which comics are even offered feedback from other comics, ( oftentimes whether they want it or not! LOL) They even have comics who are willing to follow you home, insisting that you take their advice!

Hard working Yonah Grossman getting the drinks ready for his show at Gotham.

I’ve performed there many times and Yonah is a nurturing presence. You can hear his laughter from the back of the room, and that is very important to a new entertainer. He works the sound, the DVD taping, and even sets up the bar for the performers to have a coke while they’re waiting to go on.

I checked out the All Star show on a Sunday night and came across Angel Lozada who was MC’ing and did a great job. Ryan Hamilton who for some reason always reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld, or maybe a caricature of Jerry Seinfeld, (and I mean that in a good way!)

Ryan talked about hot air ballooning not being a reliable mode of travel. No one’s ever said, “ I gotta go to the store. I think I’ll take the balloon.”

He stayed in a hotel, and asked for a wake-up call. The operator said, “ You make 16 thousand a year and haven’t had a decent date in months. How’s that for a wake-up call?”

Harrison Greenbaum, winner of The Andy Kaufman Award and one of Comedy Central’s choices for Comics To Watch, and who will be appearing at my Diabetes fundraiser, talks about how people think he’s gay. I thought he was gay too. He’s also hilarious, and very likeable on stage!

Jeffrey and Harrison Greenbaum at a comedy event.

Rodney Laney was the headliner, and in talking about crime said he was so afraid of the police, he practices “freezing” in the mirror. He wonders about mounted policemen on horseback functioning in the hood. What do they do it they do if they arrest a brother, say “ Hop on? ” Great visual of the perp having to hold onto the cop around his waist! (LOL)

Rodney’s girlfriend moved out on him, and even took his window sills. (Great line!)

One girl he went out with talked so much, she used up his unlimited minutes! Rodney Laney is a funny dude!

At Michael Loftus’s show, Helen Hong stood out talking about her name being the third most un-f**kable name, behind Ethel and Gertrude. I’m sure that somewhere there are well meaning Chinese parents who called their daughters Ethel and Gertrude. At least they didn’t call their sons Ethel and Gertrude. That would have been much worse!

Helen says, “I’m Asian. We’re very flat people.” Maybe she should hang out with Flat Stanley, who I heard may actually be Asian!

She says that white people think all Asian people can tell where other Asian people are from, like we have some kind of “squint-o-meter!” That’s hysterical! Helen is one of those comics who has gotten really funny from working so hard.

Sheng Wang in front of the photo gallery at Gotham Comedy Club.

Speaking of Asian comics, Sheng Wang is a new favorite of mine. He killed as part of Anthony Anderson’s monthly Mixtape Show, which I try never to miss.

In speaking of his name he admits it’s a great name for pursuing comedy, but wasn’t that great for pursuing childhood!

He says he lives in Chinatown cause that’s where he got assigned. I have a feeling he fits in well there!

Royale Watkins, Anthony’s partner hosted this month, and had his middle son Royce open the show for him. What a well poised and talented kid. He really had stage presence and knew how to handle himself. Royale’s youngest son Ross also came out and did a cute bit translating the show into Spanish.

Royce Watkins opening the Mixtape show for his Dad Royale.

He’s got a whole family of talented entertainers!

And then Capone came on and destroyed the room. He started out by saying he didn’t know what to say cause he was asked to work “clean”, but he proved he could be just as funny being clean as he is with his usual non-G-rated stuff.

Jeffrey and Capone hanging out at Gotham after the Mixtape show.

Sarah Silverman Visits The Friars Club

So I went to The Friars Club to see the new film “Peep World” starring Sarah Silverman, Michael C. Hall, Rainn Wilson, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Ann Warren, Ron Rivkin, and Ben Schwartz.

It was presented as part of the new film program created by Charlie Prince who also produces the very successful Friars Club Film Festival. Assistant Executive Director of The Friars, Michael Caputo made sure things ran smoothly as he always does.

Sarah Silverman and Ben Schwartz at the Q&A at The Friars Club for Peep World.

Sarah attended with co-star Ben Schwartz to do the Q&A and was accompanied by her close friend comic Todd Barry, one of the few who makes me laugh out loud! I don’t even make ME laugh out loud, but he does!

Todd Barry and Jeffrey Gurian at Comix, BEFORE it went out of business!

Anyway, the movie was very funny. It’s actually a family comedy that stars the great Ron Rivkin as the head of the highly dysfunctional Meyerowitz family. Sarah plays Cheri, the only sister to three brothers, pursued for 8 years by a funny Orthodox Jewish character played by Stephen Tobolofsky.

Ben Schwartz plays Nathan the youngest brother who destroyed the family by writing a tell-all about their lives. Cheri is suing Nathan for ruining her life. They all get together once a year for their father’s birthday and they all seem to hate each other.

The film screened at the Toronto and Austin film fests last fall, and IFC Films released it March 25. So Ben and Sarah showed up at The Friars to do a Q&A after the film. Sarah never seems comfortable with that kind of stuff.

Sarah Silverman holding the i-Phone with which she proceeded to take my picture!

But while they were in front of the room answering questions, and people were snapping photos of her, she took out her camera and said, ” I’m gonna take a picture of Jeffrey Gurian”, and snapped a photo of me sitting up front. It was very unexpected, and very funny. I hope somebody was shooting video so I can get a copy! Michael Caputo, I’m calling you about this!!! (LOL)

Then I decided to ask my own question for the Q&A, so I asked Ben how he prepared for the erection scene, and he said he was very proud of his erection work, and tried to stay hard for a few weeks in order to prepare.

It was a fun evening and I look forward to attending the next film that Charlie has coming up.

Trump Gets Roasted (Again!!!)

Comedy Central had a couple of incredible events this month and one of them was the Roast of Donald Trump. It was held at the Manhattan Center on West 34th Street , and Comedy Central went all out. Even The Donald himself said they paid him a lot of money to encourage him to subject himself to another Roast, after he survived the one from The Friars Club.

He’s donating all the money to charity. I happened to see him just before the Friars Roast and he asked me,” Do you think I’ll be able to handle it?” And I said to him, “Donald, if anyone can it’s YOU!”

So it was candy-filled gold coins, gold balloons on the ceiling, gold lame (pronounced Lamay not lame!!! ) pillow cushions wherever you sat. It was all about money, and rightfully so when you’re talking about The Donald, one of the most well known billionaires on the planet.

Donald Trump making a point at his Comedy Central Roast.

As you might imagine it drew a star studded audience, starting with Doug Herzog, President of MTV Networks Entertainment Group, and a friend of Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs.

Richie Tienken, Doug Herzog, and Bob Wachs at The Comic Strip

Seth MacFarlane, the super successful creator of Family Guy, was the Roast master. On the dais were Whitney Cummings, Snoop Dogg, Anthony Jeselnik, Larry King, Lisa Lampanelli, Marlee Matlin, Mike ” The Situation” Sorrentino, and Jeffrey Ross. Also in attendance were Ivanka Trump, Russell Simmons, John Legend, Donald’s beautiful wife Melania, and Comedy Central executive, V.P. JoAnn Grigioni.

Aileen Budow, the head of press, was in charge of running the red carpet which she did so well, (as always!) and was helped by Eve Kenny.

JoAnn Grigioni, Jeffrey Gurian, and Jeffrey Ross at the after-party for the Trump Roast at Gotham Hall!

Mike ‘The Situation” Sorrentino found himself in a very difficult situation to say the least. Having to compete with hardened, experienced comics is basically impossible, but he kept laughing through the whole, painful thing, which is how I am characterizing his set. You have to give the guy credit for even attempting something so difficult.

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey at the Comedy Central Donald Trump Roast

It’s always great to see Lisa Lampanelli. When she saw me and went to introduce me to her husband Jimmy, she actually remembered he and I had already met, which was very interesting to me.

She said, ” you guys met at my book party at Carolines.” It was for her book,”Chocolate Please!- My Adventures In Food, Fat, and Freaks” which I think came out in 2009. She remembered that I came out to support her, which I think is very important to do for your friends. You need to get out and support people in their efforts.

And it shows how people remember those things, even successful, busy people like Lisa, because I didn’t think she would. And she was right. I did meet Jimmy that day and they weren’t married yet, just engaged, but we all took pictures together, so we could prove she was dating someone white! (LOL).

Big Jimmy and Little Lisa at the Donald Trump Roast at the Manhattan Center

It really shows how some people appreciate and remember those who come out to support them. And hopefully she’ll drop by my fundraiser to fight Diabetes on April 14th ay 8 P.M. at The Comic Strip. She said if she was in town she’d be glad to come.

Some of the highlights:

The very competent and confident Seth MacFarlane who was the Roast Master for the Donald Trump Roast.

Seth on Trump – Now there’s a Donald Trump cologne that never fails with women. You pour it on a cloth and hold it over her face until she stops struggling.

Seth on Lisa Lampanelli – Lisa recently appeared on The View, and blocked it!

Seth on Larry King – Seth referred to Larry as ” a chattering pirate skeleton, on loan from Disneyland.”

Lisa led off the Roast which is a hard spot to fill, but she killed it as always. She referrred to Anthony Jeselnek as Anthony Jism-neck, and Seth said that Anthony was only there because Greg Giraldo was dead.

Lisa on Jeff Ross – Jeff is in as much demand as the treadmill in Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house.

Jeffrey Ross sporting a hairstyle stranger than mine! He looks like Moammar Khadaffy did his hair, using his hat to guide the shape.

Lisa on Trump – You’ve ruined more women’s lives than Bulimia.

Lisa on The Situation – The Situation wrote a book which is being sold on Amazon. When you bring up the book it says, ” People who have bought this book have also bought a rope and a stool.”

Snoop referred to Lisa as Notorious P.I.G. which was hysterical, and referred to Anthony Jeselnik as “Anthony Jizzleneck”.

Snoop on Anthony – The last time I saw him on the mic he forgot to order my Chicken McNuggets.

Snoop on Donald – He’s rich but very cheap. The last check ( Czech) he ever picked up was Ivana!

Anthony Jeselnik is a great joke writer. He said, “Look at this dais. You got a pimp, a drug dealer, a pornographer, a murderer, and 8 white people.”

Anthony on Larry King – Larry’s so old, he’s actually one of the Jews that killed Christ.

Anthony on The Sitch – Mike Sorrentino, sometimes known as The Situation. Never known as The Education. He has a book, a video, a tanning salon, … he has his name on everything but a high school diploma.

Jeffrey Ross closed the show and came out wearing a signature jacket befitting the Roastmaster General, with medals and epaulets, and something about it reminded me of something that Georgie Jessel might have worn.

I’m concerned that no one will know who Georgie Jessel was. He was a comedian during The Civil War. I think his original name was Georgie Jeselnik, but he changed it to Jessel for show business reasons.

Jeffrey on Whitney – (Whitney by the way is the brunt of a lot of sex jokes in which she plays “the slut”! She’s a sexy girl who seems to act that way naturally!) Whitney is working on three pilots at the same time, and that was just on the flight in!

And finally The Donald got his turn and had some really funny things to say. Btw, I hope he runs for President. I think he’d be amazing, and would put the country back on track. That being said, …

Trump – What a great honor it must be for you to honor me tonight!

Trump about the dais – Look at this dais. None of these people can even get arrested, .. except for Snoop Dogg.

I did a little video on the red carpet with Roasters Jeffrey Ross, Lisa Lampanelli, Anthony Jeselnik, Whitney Cummings, Snoop Dogg, Marlee Matlin,and guests like comic/TV host Amy Schumer, Actor Ice-T and his wife Coco, Russell Simmons, and even MTV President Doug Herzog. And Gilbert Gottfried was the surprise guest! You can see it here!

Want more Jeffrey Gurian? Check out his official site here.

About the Author

Jeffrey Gurian

Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer who has written for lots of big names, and is currently writing the book on the 35 year history of The Comic Strip. Contact Jeffrey at Jeffrey@jeffreygurian.com.

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